I often talk about my own struggle with mental illness and those of people close to me. But I realise an issue that I haven’t touched on, is men’s mental health…
Welcome to a whole new world of stigma.
Yet suicide is the main cause of death in men under 45 in the UK, 3/4s of suicides are men and 84 men in the UK take their own life EACH week.
So when I heard that a local Time to Change Champion Lisa Bourne, who works as a humanist naming celebrant and trainee wedding celebrant, was organising an awareness event, I wanted to find out about her “why.”
Here she shares her story of losing a friend to suicide:
I lost my friend of 17 years to suicide in October 2017. He loved life, his family and friends. He loved music and bike rides and photography. I knew all those things. But I didn’t know that in the two months prior to his death he was in crisis.
I actually dreamt about him in a purple Willy Wonka suit and that’s when I realised that I hadn’t heard from him in a while! So I messaged him and although I saw the notification that he had read it, I didn’t get a reply. I thought he was busy with work because well, that’s just how life is sometimes!
I only found out after his memorial service just how much pain he was in and how ill he was.
Several of my friends came to me separately and said that they wanted to do something to help men experiencing mental health problems. I started a group message on social media to see what ideas we could come up with. It started with climbing instructor Cameron Nelson offering to do a climbing session and Lee Johnson Fitness offering to talk about positive habits around physical health leading to confidence and motivation. We wanted to combine these activities with an information session and so I put a few messages out on social media asking for any men with an experience of mental ill health to let me know what works for them to get them through their bad days and how they keep well.
It soon became very obvious that this was a massive topic that was affecting a lot of people and the event needed to be much bigger if it was to help anyone successfully.
Gabrielle Hamilton, Community Team Leader of Leeds Museum and Galleries, very kindly offered free use of the venue of Leeds City Museum.
So on the 20th of May, at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, there will now be a launch event, which will be followed by the activity sessions that we initially had in mind.
The launch event is free to attend, as are the workshops and entry to the museum is free too!
The workshops include a visit from State Of Mind Sport, a session by Leeds Mindfulness on Mindfulness For Men and several men talking about their own experiences of mental ill health (full schedule can be found at https://mensmentalhealthevents.wordpress.com/workshop-schedule).
It was very important to me that men had the chance to discuss their real experiences and I feel so proud of everyone who has offered to take part in these workshops.
The stallholders will include charities offering support such as Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis, Rethink, Battle Scars and Anxiety Leeds.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation are also coming to discuss, amongst other things, nutrition and mood-boosting foods.
There will be activity/social groups – Men That Sing, Leeds HackSpace, Leeds Repair Café, Leeds Photography Group to name but a few – to encourage participation and inclusion and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Many of the stallholders of the activity groups are men who have experienced mental health issues. These activity groups will also be participating in the schedule of follow up sessions after the launch event (details will be confirmed). We also have some stalls promoting self-care (Body Shop At Home and Neal’s Yard Remedies independent consultants) who will be offering free hand massages, facials and testers and there will be a tombola raising money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Again, all information about the stallholders and raffle prizes can be found at mensmentalhealthevents.wordpress.com
Although it is a men’s mental health event, I really want to emphasise the fact that this event is open to anyone and children are also welcome. We have 2 facepainters coming and Lawrence Turner of LT Entertainment will be joining us with his fantastic balloon modelling for the morning.
My aim is to get some conversations going between those with mental ill health and those currently without, to create some understanding about lived experiences and break down the stigma surrounding mental health and to provide support to those in need.
Requests – I am still accepting raffle prizes should anyone wish to donate, I have a crowdfunding page to help raise money for the running costs of the event www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lisabourne31, I have a fundraising page if people wish to donate to CALM www.justgiving.com/lisabourne31
Contact details – 07725686436, [email protected], twitter @lmbbnamings, facebook.com/lisabournehumanist